Deserves a place on the shelf next to such classics of uninhibited American introspection as On the Road and A Fan’s Notes.

THE ADDERALL DIARIES

A MEMOIR OF MOODS, MASOCHISM, AND MURDER

An endlessly fascinating memoir by a profoundly courageous writer.

Novelist and cultural critic Elliott (My Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me Up, 2006, etc.) has plumbed his difficult life for his novels and short stories. A runaway at age 13, following his mother’s death, he spent years in group homes around Chicago, engaging in petty crimes and developing addictions to heroin and other narcotics, rather than stay with his violence-prone sadistic father. As he began his latest book, Elliott was just resuming a daily regimen of Adderall ingestion. Off the drug, he lost the focus to write anything. Back on it and experimenting with means of enhancing its amphetamine-like effects, his mind still raced, but he was better able to channel his energies into writing down his rapid-fire thoughts. His new book, he decided, would be about a murder trial getting underway in San Francisco, where he had settled after a restless post-adolescence period. In the spring of 2007, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Hans Reiser was accused of killing his Russian-born wife Nina, whose body had yet to be found. The author's interest in the case was sparked by a confession of Reiser's best friend Sean Sturgeon, with whom Nina had an affair. The confession reminded Elliott of his father's odd story that he killed a man who had publicly humiliated him the year before Elliott was born. Despite the luridness of the subject matter, the author creates a refined, beautiful work of art. His themes—seemingly crime, murder, drugs and sadomasochistic sex—actually encapsulate the nature of truth, self, love and memory, and the limits of art to get at them all.

Deserves a place on the shelf next to such classics of uninhibited American introspection as On the Road and A Fan’s Notes.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-55597-538-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Graywolf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2009

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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